DepEd-12 nixes anew lavish school Christmas parties

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/05 December)– The Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 12 ordered anew private and public schools in the region to adopt “alternative ways” of celebrating the Christmas season by focusing on service-oriented activities.

Dr. Allan Farnazo, DepEd Region 12 director, issued a memorandum specifically directing all schools and other DepEd units in the area to celebrate Christmas in “simple but meaningful” manner and refrain from holding lavish parties as well as giving out expensive gifts.

“We should instead reflect on the true spirit of the season and the severity called for by the difficult economic times,” he said.

Also known as Soccsksargen, Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

In DepEd-12 Memorandum 261, Farnazo reiterated the provisions of DepEd Order 114, series of 2009, which set the guidelines for the holding of Christmas celebrations in schools.

He said contributions of celebrations in schools and offices, whether in cash or in kind, should be strictly voluntary.

Decorations should be simple, inexpensive and produced or made by students, teachers and school staff members, he said.

Farnazo said schools may use the occasion to come up with schemes to generate funds for poor Filipinos.

“Schools and offices are encouraged to tone down the holding of parties and consider donating the savings to relief assistance for families still reeling from the destruction caused by the recent calamities,” the official said.

As alternative, Farnazo urged schools to adopt activities that would help develop and further encourage the students to serve their country or to work for its betterment.

He said schools may pursue alternative service-oriented initiatives such as community, coastal or creek cleanup; medical and dental mission in coordination with concerned agencies; tree planting; and, feeding and reading program for street children.

“They may visit our homes for the elderly and differently-abled children and hold outreach activities,” he said.

Farnazo said schools may launch “adopt-a community” and “adopt-a-family” projects as well as conduct symposiums on disaster preparedness in the barangays.

Last year, DepEd-12 issued the same order to local schools and rallied them instead to a region-wide fund-raising and relief campaign for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda that had hit parts of Visayas.

Dubbed “Piso Mula sa Puso,” the agency led public donation drives to gather relief donations in any amount and form from students and other local stakeholders.